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The world of sign language — Interview with Cheryl, from Imperial Cullinan


Cheryl, a property and facility officer from Imperial Cullinan, has strived to learn sign language in order to communicate more effectively with hearing-impaired residents. Although her sign language is only at the introductory level, the sincere hospitality can definitely be felt by the residents.

Decoding sign language used by the deaf-mute community

It is reported that there are over 100,000 visually and hearing-impaired people in Hong Kong. Some of them may visit SHKP malls, or are even our residents. To provide appropriate service to customers with special needs at all times, SHKP's property management company, Hong Yip, and its People Development Academy hold regular training workshops related to diversity inclusion, where the participants learn sign language and sighted guide techniques, and to review what they have learnt. Cheryl signs up for every class and always sits at the front to avoid missing any learning opportunities.

Cheryl recalls that her colleague once needed to greet a deaf-mute visitor, who asked for help using sign language. The colleague was unable to help the visitor, so she asked Cheryl for help. Although Cheryl's level of sign language was only at the introductory level, she still strived to communicate with the visitor. The visitor’s grateful smile after Cheryl's successful help further motivated her to pursue her sign language learning.

Willingness to communicate more important than mastering sign language 

Language is best learnt through interactive communication, but due to limited opportunities to apply in daily life, Cheryl sometimes forgets the signs, leading to miscommunication. Also, in sign language, different hand movements can be used to express the same meaning. However, she believes that learning sign language is actually much easier than playing Taboo, as in addition to gestures and facial expressions, writing and other ways can be used to facilitate communication, as her teacher explained. Sign language is only a tool for communication;  having a heartfelt willingness to interact is more important. All in all, as long as people are willing to communicate with the deaf-mute community, it is not as difficult as it seems, says Cheryl.